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Report: Dolphins mull 2013 franchise tag for Jake Long

  • By Brian McIntyre NFL.com
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Jake Long is unsure if there have been any talks between his agent, Tom Condon, and the Miami Dolphins' front office regarding a contract extension, but the four-time Pro Bowl left tackle shouldn't plan on leaving South Florida anytime soon.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes that, if a long-term extension isn't reached, the Dolphins will use the franchise tag on Long next offseason.

This news shouldn't come as a surprise, as left tackles, particularly elite tackles such as Long, rarely if ever hit the free-agent market.

After the Dolphins used a second-round draft pick on Stanford offensive tackle Jonathan Martin, there was a report in the Miami media that Long would be allowed to walk after this season, with Martin replacing him on the left side. But general manager Jeff Ireland opened the Dolphins' post-draft news conference by shooting down that report.

The selection of Martin had almost nothing to do with Long. It was about addressing a right tackle position that had been a revolving door (Vernon Carey, Marc Colombo) on the offensive line the last few seasons. In Martin, the Dolphins added an athletic right tackle with the versatility to play on the left side should Long be injured, which he was for the first time in 2011, or doesn't sign a possible franchise tender the following offseason.

What is somewhat surprising is the slow approach the Dolphins have taken toward extending Long's contract. Long, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft, is due $11.2 million in non-guaranteed base salary in 2012 and has the highest salary-cap number ($12.8 million) on the team. The Dolphins could fold that $11.2 million in cash into the guaranteed amount on Long's second contract, which is expected to rival or top the seven-year, $84 million contract that Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas signed last September.

An extension for Long won't automatically reduce his cap number -- Thomas' cap number increased by over $5 million on his new extension -- but it could be structured in a way that creates space to allow for extensions for cornerback Sean Smith and wide receiver Brian Hartline.

As for the franchise tag, the tender for an offensive lineman in 2012 was worth $9.383 million and will remain in that area as the salary cap is expected to remain flat in 2013. However, that won't matter for Long as his franchise tag would be worth $15.36 million, 120 percent his 2012 cap number of $12.8 million.

Of course, Long's agent possibly seeking a minimum of $26.56 million in full guarantees (Long's 2012 base salary, plus his franchise tag in 2013) and over $45 million in total guarantees (Long would earn $44.992 million if he played out this season and were franchised in both 2013 and 2014) might be why the Dolphins aren't rushing to make a deal this summer.

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